The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
|The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Julien Temple|
|Written by||Julien Temple|
|Narrated by||Malcolm McLaren|
|Music by||Sex Pistols|
|Distributed by||Virgin Films|
|15 May 1980|
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle is a 1980 British mockumentary film directed by Julien Temple and produced by Don Boyd and Jeremy Thomas. It centres on the British punk rock band Sex Pistols and, most prominently, their manager Malcolm McLaren.
Guitarist Steve Jones plays a shady private detective who - through a series of set piece acts - uncovers the truth about the band. Drummer Paul Cook and bass guitarist Sid Vicious play smaller roles, and the band's manager, Malcolm McLaren, is featured as "The Embezzler", the man who manipulates the Sex Pistols. Fugitive train robber Ronnie Biggs, performer Edward Tudor-Pole, sex film star Mary Millington, and actresses Irene Handl and Liz Fraser also make appearances. Singer and frontman Johnny Rotten refused to have anything to do with the film stating that it was "a pile of rubbish" and was also "Malcolm's vision of what he believed and not true in any form." Rotten had also been fired by McLaren at this point.
The movie tells a stylised fictional account of the formation, rise and subsequent breakup of the band, from the point of view of their then-manager Malcolm McLaren. In the film, McLaren claims to create the Sex Pistols (In truth, they were already formed and Jones and Cook asked him to become their manager), and manipulate them to the top of the music business, using them as puppets to both further his own agenda (in his own words: "Cash from chaos"), and to claim the financial rewards from the various record labels the band were signed to during their brief history – EMI, A&M, Virgin, and Warner Bros. Records.
- Malcolm McLaren – The Embezzler
- Steve Jones – The Crook
- Paul Cook – The Tea-Maker
- Sid Vicious – The Gimmick
- Johnny Rotten – The Collaborator (archive footage)
- Ronnie Biggs – The Exile
- Irene Handl – Cinema Usherette
- Mary Millington – Mary
- Liz Fraser – Woman in Cinema
- Jess Conrad – Jess
- Helen of Troy – Helen
- Tenpole Tudor – Tadpole
- James Aubrey – B.J.
- Johnny Shannon – Ed Bird
- Judy Croll – Soo Catwoman (uncredited)
- Peter Dean - Nightclub Bouncer (uncredited)
The footage was filmed in early to mid-1978, between singer John Lydon's departure from the band and their subsequent split. The movie was finally released nearly two years later. Lydon (who was listed in the credits as "The Collaborator") and original bass guitarist Glen Matlock only appear in archive footage — Lydon having refused to have anything to do with the production.
The 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury, also directed by Julien Temple, retells the story of the Sex Pistols from the perspective of the band, thus serving as a response to and rebuttal of McLaren's insistence that he was the driving creative force of the band.
Home video release
- "The Swindle Continues in Your Own Home" was the tagline on the original 18 certificate VHS release from Virgin Video in 1982. In 2005 the film was released on DVD by Sony.
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